(Coors Light?! And here we thought Canadians were passionate about the quality of beer they drink.)
A little over a year ago, Georges St. Pierre was riding high. He had defended his belt for the sixth straight time against Jake Shields at an event that both obliterated North American attendance records and satisfied his home country’s need for bloodshed without having to sacrifice his first born child, as is tradition. Although he was being bashed by some critics for his apparent lack of finishing power, “Rush” would quickly meet a challenger that would bring out the inner killer his fans had been waiting for since UFC 83. Needless to say, things were going well for old GSP.
And then he took an arrow to the knee.
Yes, after blowing out his ACL, the welterweight kingpin was forced out of action for so long that even his stand-in champion went missing in an apparent attempt to find him. In the time since we last saw St. Pierre, his beloved homeland of Canada eeked out a respectable 36th place in the Summer Olympics, celebrated the 60th anniversary of one of their biggest television programs, and even closed the book on one of the most bizarre crimes in the country’s history. So overall, it was a decent year for any Canadian not named Georges St. Pierre.
But come November 17th, all that will change for at least one man, as GSP is set to finally make his triumphant return to the cage at UFC 154. And to celebrate his return, we’ve decided to dig up the fight that started it all. It took place in January of 2002 in Montreal and pitted the future champ against future UFC/WEC bantamweight (sheesh) Ivan Menjivar in his professional debut.
As was the case in Jon Jones’ UFC debut against Andre Gusmao, we can see a similar yet less refined fighter in GSP here. Watch in awe as he tests out the superman punch that would eventually find it’s way onto the Sportscenter top 10 when he used it on BJ Penn at UFC 94. Marvel at his superhuman ability to thwart a takedown as he would against Josh Koscheck at UFC 74. But we’ll give Menjivar credit where credit is due; his experience surely helped, but couldn’t possibly make up for his definitive size disadvantage, yet he still managed to take GSP down. Sean Connery approves.
But once St. Pierre is able to capitalize on a Menjivar trip around the 8:40 mark, he unleashes a hailstorm of punches and elbows that, while not enough to put Menjivar out, are apparently enough to get the ref to jump in and call the bout. Definitely an odd ending to an otherwise great bout. St. Pierre would go on to win his next six bouts before being armbarred just before the bell by Matt Hughes at UFC 50 in his first ever welterweight title shot.